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jfleming03

How early to arrive @ Charleston port??

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I have a 12:00 appointment time to board the sunshine for a Christmas cruise leaving out of Charleston. How early should I actually get to the port?? 
I have the faster to the fun pass, also

 

thanks

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Too early and you are lined up outside the gates which is interesting in Charleston as the streets are very narrow.  Every time we cruise out of there embarking is different except for the parking.  You follow the line show your boarding pass and pay your money then on to the next station where you turn in your luggage and hopefully you are allowed to park or it is back out on the street to wait until they allow you to park.  Then it is into one building where you register and then we went by bus over to the ship where we waited in another building to board. I would not be there too early plenty of parking and they direct you where they want you to park 

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It's a totally different experience.  We've been on 100+ cruises from various ports.  Not knowing the timeline or procedure, we drove from our overnight stay in Orangeburg, SC and arrived at the port about 8:00.  They allowed us to go to the check-in tent and do our parking arrangement. Then we proceeded to the porter's area where they ransomed our luggage for a 5 foot movement.  We were delighted as things were going so smoothly.

 

Asked where we should go next to park....we were told we couldn't but had to leave the enclosed area, and come back at 10:30 or 11:00.

With 2 teenage boys in the back seat anxious to get on with it.  Having a breakfast in Orangeburg and hour and half earlier I asked the officer at the gate what we should do.  He shrugged his shoulders.

Never been to there before.....no map.....downtown on a Sunday is when everyone within an hour's drive come to the market.

No place to park...going around and around, bitching from the back seat.  Went back to the port.  This was on a Sunday and people were lined up on the side streets, parking on the wrong side of the street because business's weren't open but were pointed to the gate getting in.

 

Folks who were also waiting became fast friends because the situation was so strange.

Doing this again in March....I'm nuts!

 

 

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Not everybody has a bad experience at the Charleston Port.  My DH and I had no problems and found it quite easy to navigate.  

I was under the impression that if you have FTTF,  you can ignore that boarding time, but it's been a while since we've used it.  

We also found the staff at the port very pleasant.  I loved cruising from Charleston.

It just goes to show you that everyone has their own experience.  I always try to keep a positive attitude and not let much bother me.  I hope you have a similar experience.

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49 minutes ago, groundloop said:

WOW..... I've crossed Charleston off the list of ports I'm willing to cruise from.  

Charleston is a lovely city to visit and even though it may require a little patience at times there are alternatives if you don't want till deal with the parking. There are hotels offering park & cruise packages that use shuttle to get you to the port for example. The port is in the historic district so you can easily explore nearby instead of sitting in the terminal.

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We boarded today. Arrived at the port around noon, on board 20 minutes later. Charleston is our home port, very easy but do not get there before 11 as they have to empty the parking lot. I’d recommend noon - you still have a full day, no hassles. 
 

 

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Our first cruise from Charleston was this past August. If anyone would take the time to do a little research, you know the procedure is different at this port. Depending when the ship allows passengers to disembark, then get to their vehicles and leave the parking lot will have an impact on when the gate opens to allow the next group to enter.

 

We had FTTF and arrived at 9:30 am. At 10 am, the gate was opened. We have a handicap tag so we did not have to pay at the first stop. You pay by credit card or pre-pay on line , no cash taken at the Port. Next, you drive maybe 50 yards and drop off your luggage. After this, follow the lanes to the parking area. Don't worry, you will be directed where to park.

 

Short walk across the street to the check in building. Make sure each person has their boarding pass and birth certificate/passport in their hand before you get near the building. Carnival personnel will stop you and check to make sure each person has their own documents. One group in front of us was stopped and made to wait because the husband kept arguing that his wife had all the paperwork. Not good enough, each person/adult must hold their own paperwork. I

 

We got into the check in building by 10:20 am, checked in by 10:25 and sat in the FTTF waiting area until the ship was cleared to board at 11:00 am. After the Diamond and Suite passengers were allowed to get on the buses, we got on a bus and were in the terminal by 11:20, straight through security and in our cabin by 11:45 am.  

 

Our last cruise was just last week, November 21st, no FTTF. Arrived parking lot at 12:40 pm, in our cabin by 1:30 pm. 

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eagletwo, that is a very comprehensive, detailed, and valuable recount of what it is really like. I thank you. 👍

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7 minutes ago, eagletwo said:

Our first cruise from Charleston was this past August. If anyone would take the time to do a little research, you know the procedure is different at this port. Depending when the ship allows passengers to disembark, then get to their vehicles and leave the parking lot will have an impact on when the gate opens to allow the next group to enter.

 

We had FTTF and arrived at 9:30 am. At 10 am, the gate was opened. We have a handicap tag so we did not have to pay at the first stop. You pay by credit card or pre-pay on line , no cash taken at the Port. Next, you drive maybe 50 yards and drop off your luggage. After this, follow the lanes to the parking area. Don't worry, you will be directed where to park.

 

Short walk across the street to the check in building. Make sure each person has their boarding pass and birth certificate/passport in their hand before you get near the building. Carnival personnel will stop you and check to make sure each person has their own documents. One group in front of us was stopped and made to wait because the husband kept arguing that his wife had all the paperwork. Not good enough, each person/adult must hold their own paperwork. I

 

We got into the check in building by 10:20 am, checked in by 10:25 and sat in the FTTF waiting area until the ship was cleared to board at 11:00 am. After the Diamond and Suite passengers were allowed to get on the buses, we got on a bus and were in the terminal by 11:20, straight through security and in our cabin by 11:45 am.  

 

Our last cruise was just last week, November 21st, no FTTF. Arrived parking lot at 12:40 pm, in our cabin by 1:30 pm. 

 How strict are they with the time, my boarding is 12-12:30 and I have fttf, any chance getting on earlier if I show up earlier 

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We had FTTF the first time in August and our boarding pass had 12:30. Show up early like we did. With FFTF, you paid to board early and be able to go to your cabin right away instead of having to wait until 1:30.

 

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10 hours ago, eagletwo said:

We had FTTF the first time in August and our boarding pass had 12:30. Show up early like we did. With FFTF, you paid to board early and be able to go to your cabin right away instead of having to wait until 1:30.

 

So it doesn’t matter what time our boarding pass says for the people with FFTF?  I was wanting to get on the ship quickly, just didn’t want to wait too long in line, traveling with very young kids

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We took an Uber to the port-we arrived at 10 and we were turned away for being too early. We took our bags from the car and waited outside the gate until 10:15. Walked our bags over to a bag drop off, walked to the check-in building, waited there about 20 minutes, boarded the shuttle to the ship, went through security and boarded the ship around 11:10 am. (We are Platinum.) Super easy leaving from Charleston! We read all the tips posted here and were ready for anything. It was even easier that we thought it would be. Don't cross Charleston off your list!!!!

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They are well equipped with wheelchairs.  
 

I don’t know, however, how they handle individuals who are wheelchair bound (not ambulatory at all) as buses/vans run from the check-in building to the ship. 
 

anyone know?

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10 hours ago, TrinaLC said:

They are well equipped with wheelchairs.  
 

I don’t know, however, how they handle individuals who are wheelchair bound (not ambulatory at all) as buses/vans run from the check-in building to the ship. 
 

anyone know?

I read on the port authority website that they do have wheelchair accessible shuttles available

 

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We were in town for a conference for several days. While there I took the opportunity to explore the port area, as there was the Carnival Elation, a small ship, in port on the day we arrived, which we could see from our hotel room. I have to say, it was the strangest arrangement I have ever witnessed. I could see were the confusion and irritation comes from. I spoke with some locals, and found out several things. First of all, they were planning to make improvements to the port, to improve the flow of both vehicles and pedestrians, as they are well aware of the issues. Second, was that not all the locals are supportive of the cruise industry being located were it is. It seems many would have liked the cruise port relocated to a more remote area that would have eliminated the traffic congestion/parking and ship transfer issues. Patriots Point area was mentioned. And third, I was told businesses were about equally divided on their enthusiasm, as many do not seem to benefit as much from the cruisers as they had anticipated. Made me wonder what perhaps they had been promised to expect. Oversold maybe? As we like the city, and the area, we had considered perhaps returning for a cruise there at another time, but have decided to wait and see what the improvements to the port we were told about actually entail.

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Get there at 1030 or 11 and you'll park and get through quickly. Its a pretty easy process. 

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